Total cost of ownership

August 18, 2018

The Economist ran a great article on China's "Belt and Road Initiative" two weeks ago. At $1.5 trillion dollars, the project plans to invest almost 10% of US GDP in foreign infrastructure over the next few years. That's a lot of money!

With all the work I've done for my HOA (City Center Plaza), I can't help but wonder, what will the maintenance cost be on all of this? It's one thing to build a bridge; quite another to ensure it's maintained and kept up over its usable life.

I've come to believe there's some sort of inevitable cycle, where municipalities lurch from new stuff to ruin over a span of about 30-40 years. Everything works well when it's first built, especially given the jobs, politics, and aesthetics of "new". But the real test is whether a new bridge, road, or park bench will make it over 30 years. That's long enough that the newness wears off, and the quality of the planning, and whether it's long-term sustainable, really becomes visible.

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